Politics & Society

How Far Is Too Far?

So, if you haven't seen the cover of the latest New Yorker magazine by now, here it is:

New Yorker cover

Folks are upset. Blogger/journalist Richard Prince talks about just how upset folks are in his daily online blog column Journal-isms.

We thought: Hey! Why not have him on the show to talk to us about this?

Great idea.

And, do you remember Emerge magazine? Now out of publication, it used to regularly push people's buttons. To the left is one of its most famous, or infamous, "hits."

'93 Emerge cover

A 1993 cover of Emerge depicted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a lawn jockey, echoing sentiments of Thomas' perceived disloyalty to the African-American community. hide caption

toggle caption

George Curry was the Editor of Emerge and now writes a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the NNPA.

So, George, what about the New Yorker cover? What's fair game?

Let's ask him.

Also, tell us what you think. How far is too far for satire?

And, the Mocha Moms. It's TMM Cheapskate week, so today we discuss talking to the kids about cutting back. We have some regulars back with us — Donna Maria Coles Johnson last talked to us about coupon-ing. Now, she's back with more tips on how to cut back, and get the kids on board without traumatizing them. And, of course, Jolene Ivey and Dani Tucker always have good sense.

... As do our O, The Oprah Magazine ethics panelists. They discuss what to do, and say, in those awkward moments.

And, our money guy Alvin Hall weighs in on debt collectors. Hey, we hope you never need to know this stuff, but if you ever do, at least now you're ready!



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One of the worst covers I have ever seen. This is not funny.

Sent by Jacque Miller | 2:23 PM | 7-15-2008

Entwined in the issue of the New Yorker cover of the Obamas is the fact that so rarely are African Americans featured on the front cover. So, this adds insult to injury. I've not heard any commentators mention this.

It is also interesting to note that according to the picture, Michelle Obama is the one to be feared. Michelle's face is given the closest to a full frontal view, while Barack's is a profile view. Michelle is the one who is armed and focused on the fist bump. And, she has her hands on her hips and her legs crossed. Armed, angry and sassy! Very interesting indeed.

Katheryn Russell-Brown

Sent by Katheryn Russell-Brown | 2:29 PM | 7-15-2008

i'm an african american who defines herself as a "good race woman" and i absolutely love the new yorker cover. it's clear that the real subjects of the cartoon are not the obamas but the crazoids who have -- in their own little minds -- morphed this mainstream upper middle class American family into ugly racial and religious stereotypes. it seems to me that the cover is an indictment of how ridiculous such fears are and it works for me. i thought it was hilarious and plan to pick up a copy.

Sent by savanna jeordan | 2:30 PM | 7-15-2008

To this 'white' Obama supporter and New Yorker subscriber, the magazine's childish "Obama" cover seems to have come from a teeny-tiny, out-of-touch white-ghetto world and to assume the same for its readership. Yet viewers on the World Wide Web are unlikely to share this private joke of a view and could easily take it straight. For Obama's opposition, that will be red meat. Meantime, nobody's talking about a really well researched 19-page piece on Obama's Chicago days inside the issue because the sophomoric cartoon is taking all the air.

Sent by Ann Warner Arlen | 3:52 PM | 7-15-2008

The cover epitomizes the tactics being used by the Right to undermine Obama. Of course their tactics appeal to people's fears, bigotry, racism, and hatred. I guess what I'm suprised about is that no one is talking about religious bigotry. Why isn't any one saying "So what if he's a muslim?" Bush is a self-proclaimed Christian and I don't see a shred of Christian teaching in any of his or his administrations' actions. In fact, he is the antithesis of a Christian. So in essence the Right is pushing the idea that only a Christian can be the president. I guess freedom of religion isn't a right of Americans any more. Oh well at least there's no more racism (ha, ha)...........

Sent by Maria | 5:26 PM | 7-15-2008

yes, over the top. i have been subscribing to the ny for several years, and yes i "get it", but so many lies have been spread about obama, that to show that photo, showing the obama's as sleeper cell agents taking over the white house, is just the kind of ignorance a mag like the ny usually tries to dispel not encourage. And yes i will be canceling my subscription for your idiocy. nice going, that was some of my favorite reading!#@$%

Sent by marc byrne | 5:47 PM | 7-15-2008

I know about the New Yorker and its satiric views but if you have to explain (like a couple of editors have being doing)of what you were trying to say in a satire, then you've REALLY missed the mark.

This satire might have being well-intentioned to spoof the fear tactics some folks have about the Obamas but it was poorly executed.

I felt having such cover with NO inscription on what it was all about - Hey, about write the "politics of fear" on the cover or show a picture of Ann Coulter drawing (or imagining) the pictures of the Obamas in such get up. Then you won't need to explain anything; that would have been funny.

But I felt this unfinished work of satire will only perpetuate the fears and stereotypes the left-leaning New Yorker was trying to highlight.

Sent by Moji | 6:24 PM | 7-15-2008

My, My People cancelling subscriptions because of a wee cartoon! How petty! Didn't Mrs. Obama while in college write how she was/wanted to be above white people, she is a separatist? Those are her views, are they not? That is NOT RACISM, it is pure truth. Mr. Obama was raised by his momma, grandparents. His father left when he was young, his father is of the muslim faith. That is truth. When Mr. Obama goes to visit that side of his family he puts on that clothing, carries as if he is that faith as is the same with that part of his family.
Sure people ARE FEARFUL! Look at how his Pastor Wright was condeming the USA and GOD! Uhm! A GOD, OUR GOD that from what "I" could see seemingly had really given a lot of those folks a LOT OF BLESSINGS as they seemed to be fairly well off! Then to be casting GOD into the bellows of HELL, ah, I don't think I would have been doing that! The Obama's kept going to this Church where Mr. Wright thought he was "ABOVE REPROACH" from GOD. IF I was at that Church when HE said those things about MY GOD, MY LORD, HE WOULD HAVE NOT BEEN STANDING VERY LONG INSIDE THAT CHURCH AND I WOULD NOT HAVE RETURNED TO HEAR THOSE WORDS OF BLASPEMY!
So I see nothing wrong with the Cartoon. They are exercising their right of Freedom of Speech that have been set up by OUR FORE FATHERS IN OUR CONSTITUTION THAT WAS SET UP WITH GOD IN IT FOR THIS COUNTRY, THIS NATION OF GOD, BY GOD, WITH GOD!
Maybe if this Nation would get back to the simple steps of a Christian Nation with God at the Helm, we wouldn't be in the condition we are in and I stand to correct Mr. Obama too, WE ARE A CHRISTIAN NATION FOUNDED ON CHRISTIAN GROUNDS, WITH THE BIBLE AS OUR RULES, WITH GOD AS OUR LEADER, OUR FATHER, OUR LORD!
I PRAY the HEAVENLY FATHER Leads this Nation in the Path of Rightiousness and togetherness of all colors, all species, all sexes. God made man in his own image. We aren't suppose to destroy each other because we are different! We should marvel at each others difference and respect it. Amen and God Bless

Sent by Debbie Bradley | 6:27 PM | 7-15-2008

Anybody remember this from the 70s (and all the controversy such an obvious bit of satire stirred up)?
"Short people got no reason,
Short people got no reason,
Short people got not reason to live?"
We should stop insulting the intelligence of the general public and accept that some folks aren't going to get this. And that's okay.

Sent by Elizabeth | 6:30 PM | 7-15-2008

While the tool may have been imperfectly crafted. I don't think that the image deserves as much uproar as it has.

Sent by Jarod HM | 6:31 PM | 7-15-2008

While the tool may have been imperfectly crafted. I don't think that the image deserves as much uproar as it has.

Sent by Jarod HM | 6:31 PM | 7-15-2008

The problem with this cartoon of the Obamas is not that it is too over the top. On the contrary, there are people who actually believe these things. The problem is that this is indistinguishable from the Right-wing characterizations it supposedly satirizes.

Sent by Josie Tolton | 6:35 PM | 7-15-2008

I am furious that the New Yorker put such a stupid and totally offensive cartoon on the cover. The timing of this couldn't be worse - in the midst of a campaign where just such ugly rumors persist and all too many people are willing to believe them. I find it disingenuous and self-serving that the editor and cartoonist dismiss those who are offended as elitists who don't give anyone outside of NY credit for understanding satire. This cartoon crossed the race, gender, and religious line.

Sent by Marilyn Gillis | 10:43 PM | 7-15-2008

My initial reaction to the news of the cover was a gut wrench. I heard the editor of the NY'er interviewed on NPR Monday, and with his explanation, "got" the joke. However, my lingering concern is that it feeds the stereotypes without including the proponents of them in the cartoon! When the magazine actually arrived yesterday and I showed it to my husband, he roared with laughter. He got the joke immediately, but I still believe that the perps should be in it somewhere. Osama and Angela (Davis) just plain flopped with me. I'm disappointed in the New Yorker.

Sent by Alexina Robertson | 7:12 AM | 7-16-2008

If we set aside the offensive nature of this, then we're left with unfunny satire. No, it doesn't need a caption or an explanation, but your do have to think a second to 'get it', not because it's tricky, but because it isn't that good.

Also, this reminds me of Reagan's 'any publicity is good publicity', but only in reverse.

Sent by Brian Stamper | 9:28 AM | 7-16-2008


Sent by Lorraine B. | 1:55 PM | 7-16-2008

The cover is a parody of the racist attitudes that still exist in stagnant corners of this country (and others as well). If you do not recognize the message, wise up.

But FWIW, compare the speeches delivered this week at the NAACP convention in Cincinnati. Obama's was great oratory, proclaiming his "change" vision for the future. But McCain offered concrete examples of systemic problems (especially in our government schools) that hurt our kids, and concrete plans to overcome the status quo.

McCain also drew his secret weapon: a well-appreciated Q&A session - something

Sent by True_Liberal | 4:07 PM | 7-16-2008


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